In this episode of the Elements of Community, Lucas Root dives into an eye-opening discussion with Ryan James. Ryan the creator of (re)biz, shines light on the important task of re-evaluating our understanding of growth, as it applies uniquely to businesses. Weaving vital elements of humanity, sustainability, and the environment, he deftly underscores the urgency of shifting business paradigms for both social prosperity and sustainable development. Together, they dig deep into the Anthropocene, the concept of infinite economic growth, and rediscovering our symbiosis with Earth.
Don’t miss out on this critical conversation that questions the very foundations of our existence and responsibility towards our planet. Tune in to learn, unlearn, and relearn the fabric of future businesses!
Lucas Root: Ryan, welcome to the show. For our listeners, Ryan and I have been connecting electronically via email and messages and a couple of Zoom chats over the last several weeks, we were connected through a mutual friend and I have come to really appreciate the way that, Ryan, you show up online, the message that you have to share [00:01:00] about getting back to the roots of humanity both of which are really important to me, roots for the obvious reason, and humanity, well, you know, for the other obvious reason and specifically the way that you help people move forward in that path is something I'm really excited to bring to this audience and give people an opportunity to engage with in a safe, healthy discussion. Would you be willing if you are, would you be willing to tell the audience a little bit about yourself and about the community we're going to talk about today and that cool thing that I just alluded to, and now everybody's scratching their head, wondering what we're really going to get to.
Ryan James: Sure. Yeah. Thank you for those kind words. My name is Ryan and sometimes people call me Ra, but my birth name is Ryan. I'm originally from what's currently called Massachusetts, but I'm taking this call from San Antonio in Texas. [00:02:00] And the community that you're alluding to is something that has been created through me, which is called Rebiz, and it's reconnecting business with earth with a very purposely chosen word there instead of on.
Lucas Root: Yes. Sweet.
Ryan James: And there is something really important about right before we started this call talking about community and understanding the nuances of human community, but also the nuances of the more than human community as well. So, yeah, I'm really happy to dive into some of these things with you today and see where we end up swimming.
Lucas Root: Sweet. This actually hasn't had a showcase yet on this show, but I've been talking about a paradigm shift that we need to have as humans. And you're gonna love this. You haven't heard it. So this is gonna be fun. If we have a paradigm and it [00:03:00] is foundational in the core and most true meaning of the word foundational.
We have a paradigm where we believe, and you can see it everywhere, and all of the actions that we take, and all of the ways that we exist in the world, we believe, at our core, that in order for us to survive as an animal, we must adversarially kill a piece of earth and keep it dead forever. That's our paradigm, and here's what I mean by that.
If we want to have a house, we first clear all of the things that are living from a space in the land, and then we ensure that piece of land never comes back to life again by putting things like tar and waterproofing, and then, large, thick pieces of stone, which we call concrete, right there in that newly cleared space to make sure that piece of land is forever[00:04:00] inoculated from life.
And then we build a in a very real sense, we build a thing on top of it, which is entirely designed to keep all life out. It's our own little, like, life free, safe space. That we go into and we play inside of that is void of nature. When we want to have a workplace, we do exactly the same thing. We kill a piece of land.
We make sure that piece stays permanently dead. And then we kill, we build a dead space on top of it and then fill that dead space with dead materials so that we can go to work in that. And in order to get to work, we do exactly the same thing. We pick a path between our house and work and we kill all of the land in between and make sure that piece of land stays permanently dead by putting cement and concrete over it so that we can drive in our car from our house to our work in the absolute certainty that from one place and all the way in between to the other place we have [00:05:00] no inadvertent interactions with life that's our paradigm.
We need to shift our paradigm and we need to shift it really badly for all the reasons. And your Rebiz is is having that conversation in a beautiful way. So that we're with earth instead of on earth.
Ryan James: I'd love to add when you say we, I think we need to be careful when we use the word we, because as it's often put, we believe we're in the Anthropocene or shifting out of what the Holocene into the Anthropocene meaning an epoch that is correlated directly with the effects of humanity with the planet.
However, it's not all [00:06:00] people and it's not all humanity who are acting in this way. So I just like to be a little bit more careful normally when I tread in the generalization of we as a human paradigm versus maybe what we can call the capitalocene. Because it's not so much as the effect of all humans, more than the effect of an actual systemic paradigm.
That is not necessarily inhabited by all people. So I just want to start with that just so that we can become just to bring that understanding of a more nuanced, we, as opposed to a generalized one.
But in general, to go back to the generalization is the paradigm of removing life in order for us to continue to live or extracting and exploiting life in order for us to live in a more controlling, comfortable way is definitely [00:07:00] something that is not beneficial to life in general. Whether or not it's even beneficial to human life, we could argue that. Right. Because I mean, all of these things that are happening with mental illness and wars and the quality of the air and the quality of the water.
I mean, is this even considered progress? And to be able to ask those questions is something really important in this continual march towards some utopia that seems like an oasis that technology promises us. So
Lucas Root: Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate the nuance and the generality And I'm comfortable and it's really important for us to point that out. I am comfortable talking in this generality I think that the people who are listening to my message and the people who will listen to my message either need to hear this generality[00:08:00] or will appreciate it.
But also you're right. You're 100 percent right. We do need to point out the nuance. Not every human is living extractively. Not every human believes that in order for them to survive, they need to kill a piece of the earth and keep it dead forever. And we can learn. We can, and we should learn from that. Yeah. Tell me more about Rebiz.
Ryan James: Rebiz is a business as usual unschool that equips people in business, not necessarily needing to be a leader, but anyone existing within the economy or functioning within business with the worldview and the skill sets to enable a regenerative and post growth world. So there's a bunch of terms in there that I can unpack.
One of them is business as usual. This is the consistent approach that through a quantitative lens and a reductionistic standpoint, [00:09:00] we can solve or fix the earth as if the earth is the problem.
Unschool or unlearning is rooted in the fact that we continually are attempting to digest and consume information, thinking that more is better when actually, as Krishnamurti once put knowledge is more wisdom is less. So to be able to step into an unschool and to unlearn the programs that are enabling this paradigm that you referred to earlier, and then replacing them with a higher order intelligence, which we can call natural intelligence is what the unschool is focused on.
Then there's a worldview and worldview is an interesting word because most people that I talk with are really focused on a mindset. But the question that I always ask them is what is the mind set in? And it's normally set in a lens that we don't know is [00:10:00] the base of how that mindset pivot is moving.
So, whether or not we actually can shift out of the lens that our mind is set in is actually what the worldview is. Because if we keep changing mindsets with the same worldview, then we're just recreating the same things with different names and different aesthetics.
So a worldview is an actual way of living that is then translated into language and adopted into a life way. And then there's regenerative, which that term has already been co opted and commodified, but there's some things we can clarify about regenerative .
And then, post growth being incorporating other potentialities and realities beyond the continual onslaught of an infinite growth model, which is sometimes viewed as Positive with our connotations of growth.
But if you [00:11:00] look at infinite growth in another way, it becomes what doctors would describe as tumorous and carcinogenic. So there's also different ways to look at growth and how the infrastructures of our mind have been situated towards growth.
Lucas Root: I love that you made that connection between the notion of infinite growth and tumors.
Ryan James: Yeah.
Lucas Root: That's such a powerful connection. We need to let that settle in a little.
Ryan James: Yeah. Especially because tumors, the way that they function, interestingly enough, is that they view themselves as separate from the host. And if we look at the paradigm of separation. Inherently within that is us thinking we're separate from the host, therefore enabling us to act in a way that is directly related to how a tumor would act, and which is a parasitic relationship that ends up consuming the tumor and the host rather than a symbiotic one.
Lucas Root: And I think [00:12:00] by and large, people are starting to accept by and large, generally across at least the United States, which is where most of my audience is, people are starting to accept that our extractive relationship with the earth has consequences. There are arguments about what those consequences are, but I think that we've moved into now we're arguing about what the consequences are rather than arguing about whether or not there are consequences.
Ryan James: Yeah. Well said.
Lucas Root: Yeah, regenerative is another great one. I've been having a lot of fun with this one recently. So there's a rancher down in Chiapas, Mexico, probably one that you know, probably, I don't know who moved into the desert, got a bunch of land for basically nothing because, you know, it's desert land and who gives a damn and started a ranch, a cow farm.
And with very careful study on regenerative farming techniques, in a very quick turnaround time, this [00:13:00] particular person turned a desert into a grass field beautiful, lush, growing grass and happy cows. And what's amazing about it is that if you go to the end of his land, you can take pictures of the desert.
And a clear straight line and his fields and he does it all naturally. He's not out there using, you know, petrochemicals and enormous machines and massive amounts of water that he's pumping out. He is very thoughtfully and carefully a very natural rancher. And when you look at that, like a picture of that, or when you read his book, or listen to him speak, or maybe even go visit, and I would love to someday, but have not it's almost impossible to look at that, and conclude that extractive is better, maybe equally the same.
We can have that argument. I think that, Most people are not even trying to argue that extractive is equal, [00:14:00] but maybe equal, but how can you look at that and conclude that it's better?
Ryan James: Yeah. first question that emerges is, was it already desert? Like, was that the original function of the land before he then altered it?
Lucas Root: Yeah. Great question. I have no idea. That's a great question.
Ryan James: Yeah, there's, extractive is part of how we function naturally. It's impossible to not extract anything, right? If we look at the way extraction functions with our breath, right, we can say we're breathing in, but in a way that's an extraction, but naturally within reciprocity, we breathe out in equal and opposite.
Lucas Root: And this other life form that's on the other end of that transaction. We breathe in their waste and we breathe out our waste and they breathe in our waste and they breathe out our [00:15:00] fuel.
Ryan James: Right, exactly. So I mentioned that because extraction is unavoidable for us to live. Everything consumes something to live. So whether or not extraction taken out of context of reciprocity is the bigger issue. I think that's something that we can look at because there's also multi multidimensionality of reciprocity. Which most of the ways that we function now, especially if you look at for something as an example, like net zero, which is a really common thing that people are, what's called carbon tunnel vision is there's all of these other variables and nuances, but everyone's focusing in on net zero and carbon sequestration.
So an airplane flies and utilizes X amount of fuel, which creates X amount of waste into the air, which then they plant [00:16:00] for new trees to act as a exchange for that. Right, but the earth doesn't really function in a cut and dry binary mechanistic way, nor does cutting down an old growth forest that was nested within intergenerational species and ecosystems.
That's not the same as planting a monocultured, monocropped forest to extract carbon so that we can balance out the balance sheet. You know, so a lot of these, a lot of the approaches that are being taken and labeled as regenerative are really taken out of context and they're taken out of reciprocity and out of an ecosystemic nested approach to revitalizing our relationship rather than just evening out the inputs and outputs.
Lucas Root: At the unit level. Exactly. And I cut down a tree. I plant a tree. That's a unit [00:17:00] level, even input output.
Ryan James: Yeah, so regeneration is a really good. I think at this point, especially to be talking about, and I don't have all of the answers, obviously.
Lucas Root: Not sure that anyone does, but I do like your questions.
Ryan James: Yeah, I do have a lot of questions for sure. You know, as Rilke says, it's more important to live into the question than to attempt to have answers because when you live into the questions like locked doors that you don't necessarily have the key to, you eventually live into the answer far into the place where you can actually embody the question and to be able to do that is what I understand emergence to be.
Which is the transitionary state that we're in as a collective humanity between systems that are attempting to do less harm, but still creating immense harm and ones that [00:18:00] are rooted in harmony, which would be a differentiation of the word harm and harmony, which I think is really cool that harmony is also a musical term that talks about how all of the instruments finding their way to play their unique sounds collaborating together within their uniqueness to create a unity.
And as of now, there's seems to be a dismissal between these two words, which for me is at the heart of regeneration, unique and unity, both sharing the prefix uni. So for me, those two words, if we can truly connect and understand those things, we're going to understand regeneration really well.
Lucas Root: Love that. We, I have this thing that I call the 200 percent model. And I do that for a reason. So here in the U.S, at the very least, we have this notion that we can exist as an infinite [00:19:00] individual. And by infinite individual, I mean that it's possible for a human to be a human without any contact with other humans.
Which is so far beyond absurd, it's ridiculous but again, that's not my fight. So, let's accept that paradigm. Let's say that it's okay to allow that idea to continue. So that's the 100%. I can be 100 percent individual, all me, all the time, all day.
Sure. Awesome. Then what I'm looking for what I want to bring to the world is this other place where that can exist and in fact it must, and you just gave beautiful words to it with your description of harmony that each and every instrument Not only can, but actually must exist in its beautiful individuality and by collaborating together with other 100 percent what other 100 percent beautiful individual instruments.
That we can do something that's even greater together. And [00:20:00] so I've been calling that the 200 percent model where the individual comes together with the community. So the community is 100 percent all by itself and the individual is 100 percent all by itself. And together we're 200%. And your description of harmony encapsulates that so well.
Ryan James: Yeah. Well, I like how you're putting it too. It reminds me of something I actually wrote about today, which was, Abraham Maslow and his Pyramid of Hierarchy. So, not a lot of people know that Abraham Maslow appropriated his Pyramid of Hierarchy from the Siksika people, which is also known as the Blackfoot people in Canada and Northern United States. Basically, he misinterpreted... Their ways of knowing by putting self actualization at the top as the main aim of someone's life to pursue a singular individualized independence, which is based on the development of them as a unique individual exclusively. [00:21:00] And that's just not how the Siksika understood it.
So, their orientation accounted for place, community, and a diverse web of relations, rather than this pursuit of a rootless narcissism. Because they believed that the child was born self actualized, and then entered into the community, and the place which rooted them into a belonging structure that didn't... Even enable an individual to exist in the same way that we're thinking about individuals.
So, in the reference to your 200 model, and even the reference in general to the fact that we can even imagine that we're an individual, right? Which we hear it a lot in business and other ways. I think it came from, I don't know if it was Benjamin Franklin who popularized it, but it was like the self made man.
Which already is out of control because that's like who birthed you, right? who [00:22:00] fed you and who cared for you, who taught you language, who assisted in the formation of your skills and agency. And to then dismiss all of those things in the pursuit of our exclusive subjectivity is something that is...
Part of the reason why we've been cut off from kinship, not only from humans, but more than humans as well. So, I really liked the understanding of Maslow's pyramid versus the Siksika understanding, which is we based rather than I based. And funnily enough, the difference between illness and wellness are in those words as well.
Lucas Root: Yeah. I love that you brought up Maslow. I'm actually in the process of writing my own paper that says that Maslow was wrong. And for the same reasons but from a very different approach Maslow identified community in the middle of the pyramid and just exactly as you said we cannot be without [00:23:00] community.
The irony is that it is community that makes all other life as a human possible. And so community actually has to come first, but here's what's amazing. It doesn't just come first, right? As you said, understood this from a "We" perspective and now I'm going to have to go rewrite my paper.
But here's the thing. I cannot have food, water and shelter, which is Maslow's base without WE. I cannot have those things without WE. A human's not even capable of changing his location or her location on his own for the first year ish of life. I cannot have food, water, and shelter without we. It's not possible.
And to take that the next step it is maybe remotely possible for a very tiny chunk of people to approach some version of enlightenment, the top of the pyramid all by themselves after they [00:24:00] became an adult, maybe. So I'm not going to take that away from a possibility.
But it's so remotely challenging to approach that it's just not worth considering for the vast majority, 99. 999 percent of people. It's just not worth it. Don't even think about trying to do it alone. That's silly. We're actually designed as an animal in order to take community input, in order to take the input of the people around us and to ascend together.
We're designed for this. The more that we study things like mirror neurons and and co regulation, the more clear it is that pursuit of any version of higher levels of consciousness is far better if even at all possible for most people but far better, far faster, far more efficient in community. When I do it with you, it's better. It's faster than when I try to do [00:25:00] it alone.
Ryan James: Because it incorporates responsibility. And freedom without responsibility is just escapism.
Lucas Root: It's just escapism. Yeah.
Ryan James: So basically now what we're witnessing with a lot of this sort of movement of escape the matrix and all of these sort of freedom constructs that, as Steven Jenkinson puts it, are consumer reality, the way that we're moving in these freedom without responsibility, we're actually just escaping and untethering ourselves from the roots of, from which we're birthed, from which we are made up of.
You know, because I can live without an eye or an arm or my leg. But if I lose the air or water or food, I die. So when we ask, which one is my body, which one is more important to me, right? So when I actually look about responsibility, and especially this term [00:26:00] that's also thrown around called embodiment, how are we able to experience a nested level of embodiment?
First, we're in our own body, but then we understand that our own body is not really our own. Our own body is made up of and more interconnected and needing the organs of the earth itself than sometimes our own organs. So which level of embodiment do we want to move in? You know, which level of self do we want to navigate?
And I think, as you're mentioning within this community, the responsibility to the community, also known as a mutual indebtedness
The community, human and more than human is what has constituted the way that these communities have been since time immemorial.
Lucas Root: That's beautiful. To give some numbers for those people who are deeply analytical, you have about 2 billion cells in your body that are your own human cells, but you have about 6 trillion non human cell bacteria that [00:27:00] make your life possible. So there's a 3, 000 order of magnitude difference between the actual human genetic cells that make up you and the symbiotic relationship with non human life that makes it possible for you to embody and that's just at the individual level, when you turn that into the fact that I didn't make my shirt.
And so in order for me to survive cold nights, I actually require the support of at least one other person who makes clothing for me to survive the cold. Now I can farm, but I can't farm everything that I care about. Let's be very honest and look around the world. I can farm beef, but right now, inside the life choices that I've made, I can't farm beef and coffee.
And I like my coffee. I want to keep having my coffee. And each and [00:28:00] every single additional level. My shirt, my home, my computer, my coffee, and my beef. Each one of those adds another layer of six trillion bacteria that my community needs to support that are non human life.
Ryan James: Yeah. Including the actual materials of the shirt, the water, the clouds, soil, all of the microbiome of the soil, all of these communities as well, that go into you being able to be warm.
Lucas Root: Yeah.
Ryan James: All of the people who have cared for the actual seeds over the course of time to enable that cotton to be here today, the ancestral inheritance that we're receiving through wearing our clothes. And then our placement within that ancestry towards other people who eventually will also need to wear clothes,
Lucas Root: Yeah.
Ryan James: Right? So there's even a way to look at this more than human [00:29:00] world in the sense of John Trudell puts it this way, our DNA descendants now ancestor.
Lucas Root: Oh, cool.
Ryan James: And understanding that continuation and how that this is another way to position ourselves within an understanding of time.
And why it's really important to understand ancestry as well as the pursuit of what is being labeled as the future generations that we're directly impacting and affecting now with our actions.
Lucas Root: Yeah. What are they going to wear and how am I ensuring that they have access to the same things that I consider to be quality of life today or something equal and or similar?
Ryan James: Quality water for sure. I mean, that's a really the water should be the main focus of everything because water is life.
Lucas Root: Water is life.
Ryan James: And that means in multiple ways, but water is also living, right? [00:30:00] But water is life, meaning all of life here on this planet does not exist without water.
So they're actually synonyms. So water is really the most important thing that we can focus on and we can simultaneously focus on rebuilding our relationship with water as well.
Lucas Root: You know, it's funny. In most cases, when a material is moving versus not moving, when it's moving, it takes up more space than when it's not moving, it takes up less space. So the less a material moves, the less space it takes up. But if that principle were applied to water, Earth would not be possible the way that we understand it today.
If water, when it froze, compacted, got smaller, it would sink. Ice would sink instead of float. And if ice sank instead of floated... It would not be possible for us to have the [00:31:00] kind of air and water movement that makes life what it is. It wouldn't be possible. It wouldn't happen. We have some really weird dynamics in our relationship with water, both how that works when water stops moving and that very strange situation enables life, it makes it possible for this to exist, and yet nobody stops and thinks about that and says, I am so grateful today that water enabled life, all of it, and mine.
How much different could our life be if we just anchored? Like, one thing, just like that, one piece of gratitude of water.
Ryan James: Yeah. Yeah. One of the most important rituals that's been shared with me is to [00:32:00] actually begin to share my intentions and thank the water.
So in general, a lot of us have these concepts in our minds, right? Like we are nature. That phrase is, a lot of people know it. Whether or not they have integrated that from a conceptual level into an actual embodied life way is a different story.
So one of the things that I often encounter within Rebiz is there's people from all over the world coming through who are sustainability leaders and working in regeneration and all of this sort of stuff. And the first question that I asked them is, How many of you have ever said thank you to the water?
And it's been way less than 1%.
Lucas Root: Oh.
Ryan James: So within this concept of sustainability from a epistemological level, people still don't have a relationship with the [00:33:00] very thing that creates all life. Right? So studying to get your MBA and sustainability from Columbia University in New York, for example, they don't teach you about water and to say thank you all the students as well that I've talked with in sustainability at universities.
I asked them this. None of them have ever even heard of this. So for me, I'm like, well, we have a long way to go here. Because we're trying to practice sustainability and create policies, but you don't even have a relationship with life itself, despite your understanding that we are nature. So there's this disintegration between a conceptual understanding and a life way.
And that's why the world is disintegrating because things that are disintegrated start to erode. And water is just one example of this. And this is just one part, right? And I mean, we can go into a lot of different questions that I [00:34:00] ask, but another one is about food and planting food and working with seeds, right?
Like whether or not someone has studied sustainability in university or practices regeneration, or if they've planted a seed in the ground and grown it into food,
Those are also very disintegrated. A lot of people who are in sustainability don't even know where their food comes from.
Lucas Root: Yeah, my beef comes from the supermarket.
Ryan James: Right?
Lucas Root: I've actually heard that and the person who said, the first time I ever paid attention to it, and the person who said it was being serious.
Ryan James: Well, they're not incorrect. There's just more steps to how it got to the supermarket.
Lucas Root: Yeah.
Ryan James: Yeah. It's a limited purview of how that happened there, but I saw this meme recently. I don't know if it's true. I haven't completely corroborated and found if it's true, but I think it was around 50 percent.
Lucas Root: All memes are true. All of them.
Ryan James: It was like 50 percent of children in the United States think [00:35:00] hotdogs grow on trees, something like that.
Lucas Root: My biggest takeaway from that share is that I find it believable.
Ryan James: Yeah.
Lucas Root: Not that it's true. You yourself has already said that you didn't fact check it. You don't know that it's true. I find it believable and just that I find it believable is enough of a two by four to the head for me. I want that to be not believable.
Ryan James: Same. Yeah. I mean, you may have seen the image where it shows a bunch of different leaves and then a bunch of different brands and it says, name these leaves and then name these brands and the rapid ability for most people to name the brands versus the leaves shows us where our attention is.
So within that, like, that's also why I haven't fact checked the percentage, but it's [00:36:00] also believable that especially if adults literally aren't saying that their beef comes from the supermarket, then what information and knowledge is trickling down to the children?
Lucas Root: Mine, by the way. It does not.
Ryan James: That's good.
Lucas Root: And in fact, I personally know the cow that I eat. I spend time with him. Sometimes I like to eat, the farmer is a about an hour drive from where I live. I like to go there once a month. It doesn't always happen, but that's an important ritual to me to go and give love to the thing that will be my food. And that could be plants, my favorite blueberries are are grown in Northern Canada. So unfortunately I don't spend a lot of time giving love to my favorite blueberries. But I do go and give love to the cow that I'm going to be eating.
Ryan James: Which once again is a relationship.
Lucas Root: Relationship.
Ryan James: So, this phrase right relationship, [00:37:00] if we want to get out of the binary of right and wrong, let's just call it relationship to even have a relationship. And know that is possible with something like our food, right, because relationships in the way that we view them, even if we push away the romantic understanding of what a relationship means to have a relationship with something.
It normally has to be animate. It has to be living. It has to be conscious. And I think one of the reasons why it's really difficult for people to have relationships with things is because they view things as not living, which is what we could call an objectified worldview, which really suits itself within the English language because most words in English are nouns and a noun inherently means inanimate object, not [00:38:00] living Stagnant, singular entity.
Lucas Root: Huh?
Ryan James: right? So there's a really interesting thing about relationship and our ability to understand our language and why maybe the way that we perceive things through our thoughts in the language limit our ability to be in relationship.
Lucas Root: Yeah. Now that's, I mean, I am in relationship with the cow and that cow will eventually be my food. It's astonishing for me to listen to this and like really internalize that I'm calling it an inanimate object, even when I'm in relationship with it.
Ryan James: It's definitely good food for thought because language, huh?
Lucas Root: As we talk about food.
Ryan James: Exactly. Yeah. Pun intended there.
Lucas Root: Yes, now, so I have this relationship with my food, I'm in relationship with my food, but[00:39:00] I don't want to turn off listeners from the idea that they can be in relationship with their food, even without the way that I do it. You, for example, Ryan. You travel and so it's simply not feasible for you to always eat from exactly the one same cow that you spent time giving into that relationship.
So you have found different ways to be in relationship with the food that sustains, that makes it possible for you to have the life you have. Can you talk about that?
Ryan James: Yeah, that's a good point because definitely with traveling, you're not always able to be in the place or have access to the people who have things locally, nevermind the ability to have a direct relationship with the farm itself, for example, but when I was living in Cameroon in 2012, when I [00:40:00] first moved there, when I was 22 to a village on the border of Nigeria, that was the first place where I actually engaged in traveling.
Killing the animals that I was going to eat never before in my life that I'd done that and that completely altered my relationship with food. Because it put into perspective, like what chicken wings are, for example, right? It's like, there's two of them. First of all, like when we used to go to Buffalo, where my dad is from and go and eat Buffalo wings at the anchor bar, which is like the home of the Buffalo wing.
We used to eat like, yeah, really good spot. Good sauces, but like there'd be like 25, 30 wings, right? So that's like, 15 chickens.
Lucas Root: 15 chickens.
Ryan James: The ability for me to even be with one chicken and the amount of intention and even shock and all of the emotions that come from doing that process of the actual killing of it.
Then the soaking of [00:41:00] it in hot water and the plucking of the feathers and all of that going into it showed me how deeply I've been taking food for granted in an entitled way because I wasn't involved in the process. So carrying that sort of experience forward with me it's helped me to actually stay, first of all, really grateful and connected.
To the food itself, because I know that animal is a living being that breathes and bleeds just like me and may even have more complex emotions, depending on who you talk with and what animal we may be speaking about. But so first of all, acknowledging that life is alive and conscious and that it is feeding my life.
So without me, without this animal, I don't really even continue to exist. So there's just before any meal, I just normally pause and give thanks [00:42:00] verbally. So even the ability to pause is something that's really important before you just shovel a fork full of food in your mouth. Right? Like that.
Lucas Root: Garfield style.
Ryan James: Yeah, exactly.
So the actual pause to give thanks before we take, or to give before we receive even that neural pathway is something that is not highlighted very often because we normally are taking without giving even our thanks. Right. Not to mention like a reciprocal actual action, which also moves gratitude from a concept and a noun and to a verb and an action.
The act of giving something before you're taking something is really vital in actually flipping the neural pathway that leads to rapid and rampant exploitation and extraction, which is never even giving thanks, never even listening, never even [00:43:00] asking, just taking something because we want it. So just these little micro rituals and ability to connect and say thank you to all the interrelated parts, right?
I mean, Thich Nhat Hanh talks about interbeing or inter are and the reality of, when he touches a piece of paper, he says he sees a cloud. So how, when we're also giving thanks to our food, to this animal, can we give thanks to all of the pieces of the interconnected web that enabled us to be eating that now?
And that practice of visualizing and Sometimes even actively speaking, whether it be in like a prayer with your friends around the food, but acknowledging the interconnection is something that's really valuable. And it has helped me to stay connected despite the different geographies that I navigate.
Lucas Root: Beautiful. For the listener, if you take nothing else away from this [00:44:00] interview take this. Pause before you eat and give thanks to that which became your food. Yeah, that was beautiful, Ryan. Thank you. I'm going to add to that. So as a, you know, the United States as a culture, as we have culturally moved further and further 100 percent religious regardless of your religious beliefs.
Things that are really valuable inside of the way that we've built our practices and rituals in our daily life and Have become religious are being left behind like praying before a meal praying before a meal became religious, but it isn't a solely religious practice and Ryan, you just brought it [00:45:00] up in a beautiful way. We can continue to have that practice and continue to bring the value into our lives of that ritual, of that practice without it being religious. And so those of you who are listening who are religious, I hope that it's still a part of your life because this is really valuable.
And those of you who have moved away from religion, maybe consider this particular ritual as something that you should bring back in a way that suits and serves you, but give thanks for the things that have become your food.
Ryan James: Absolutely.
Lucas Root: Yeah. I could also spend all day talking about the neurological impact of decisions like that as well. We as a being very much dislike not knowing what's coming and your stomach doesn't necessarily know you're about to eat or even what you're about to eat.
But when you pause, rather than [00:46:00] tipping up the lasagna pan and start shoveling into your mouth. Just pausing and giving thanks to that food also is preparation for your nervous system to start receiving it and the entire body changes in that preparation.
Ryan James: Yeah. And to add another thing that just from traveling to a lot of different places that has become an integrated habit of mine, but I normally don't use forks or knives or anything like this. I eat with my hands, whether it be with tortilla or whether it be with pita or like a different type of bread injera.
But most people in the world don't eat with forks and knives and spoons. You know, even soups, like there are places you eat, you learn how to eat soups with your hands with maybe food, these different sort of things, but actually touching the food before you eat. It is really also very beneficial for the body.
Very beneficial for your connection and relationship with the food. You're [00:47:00] also not going to torch the top of your mouth. Like what we do with pizza when you just throw it in there and the cheese sticks or like, we take a form food and it's too hot. So. Yeah. Exactly. So, even that the practice of eating with my hands is something that helps the relationship with food, the textures and just engaging with it in another way, right? Because the fork is just another method of separation.
Lucas Root: I love that. I use forks and I probably am now gonna either stop or at least incorporate that into part of the way that I approach food. Thank you. What a gift.
Ryan James: And it's more fun to
Lucas Root: it's cheaper. This it's cheaper and more expensive. I got to tell you this right here is a far more expensive tool than this.
Ryan James: It's evolved over longer periods of time.
Lucas Root: That's right. And replacing it is [00:48:00] much more challenging. That's great. I love it. Yes. Use your hands. Like be connected. It's just as easy to be clean with hands as it is with a fork. I can wash my hands just as easily as I can wash a fork. There's no reason not to, you know, use my hands except that we have this
Ryan James: Stigma.
Lucas Root: stigma. Yeah. We have a cultural stigma.
We have a rule that we've chosen to follow. And until this moment, I had never questioned it.
Ryan James: Yeah, the cool part about a lot of the what we want to call activism or regeneration or any of these things is that they're exercises in imagination. And they're exercises in curiosity and questioning things is, it's just become the way that I live. I, you know, even questioned most of the words that even come out of my mouth, you know, [00:49:00] because one of my teachers early on, everything that I was saying, he would just continually ask me, how do I know that these are true? So I'd be like, Oh, you know, this doctor said this. And he'd be like, that's nice.
How do you know that the doctor knows that's true? And whether or not the doctor is saying something that's true or correct or not isn't the point, right? The point is to continually ask yourself the things that we are routinely adopting without a second thought, including what we're speaking, right?
Because English derived from Old English and the etymological roots of a lot of the words that we are using, we're not even aware of them. Like for example, apocalypse, right? That has a really like intense emotional charge normally and, but apocalypse means to lift the veil from the root apocalypse or emergency, [00:50:00] right?
Emergency, the root word means to bring to the light,
Lucas Root: Yeah.
Ryan James: which suits for emergence, right? So sometimes people talk to me about the climate and the emergency and I say, well, if we haven't listened by now, then maybe the emergency is going to help lead us into emergence.
Lucas Root: Oh, huh.
Ryan James: Because they're part of the same word, right?
So even beginning to think about the words that we're spelling, as some people call it, or continuing to utilize, are creating the reality that maybe we don't even want to inhabit in the first place. So we have to start to look at the roots of our language, you have to start to look at the roots of how we perceive time and the roots of these things that we've been programmed into or schooled into, we have to unschool or deprogram ourselves from these things that is just going to help lead us into reconnecting with the more beautiful world that we're stepping into, hopefully, as a collective, you know,[00:51:00] so yeah.
Lucas Root: Yeah. Amazing. I have appreciated this tremendously. I like to wrap up my interviews with three questions. And the second and third are curve ball questions. So, you know, make sure you're seated.
Ryan James: I used to be a baseball player and I was really good. So just make sure you don't leave the curve ball hanging or else.
Lucas Root: Thank you. First is for the people who can't stand the notion that they haven't yet been unschooled and they need to reach out to you. What's the one best way that they can find you?
Ryan James: To become engaged with the actual unschool, they would go to www.Rebiz, REBIZ.io and
Lucas Root: io.
Ryan James: Yep. And that's a unschool course community and a movement that we have co designed me and my co designer Aaron from Sydney, who focuses on [00:52:00] degrowth and post growth economics, or we've designed it in a way that it's now building a community towards gesturing towards tipping points of revitalizing a specific kinship worldview applied practically and pragmatically into systems.
So that's how anyone listening could discover the actual unschool, but I also just have my personal website, but you can reach me through there. I think that'd be the easiest way without diversifying all the different ways to get in touch with me at first. I also have an Instagram which I believe is _Ryan James.
I believe that's the Instagram address.
Lucas Root: Awesome. Yeah Reviz.Io And i've been to it. It's a lovely website and I am very excited that everybody pop on over and take a peek at the very least if not go deep, please do.
Ryan James: Yeah. It's been a [00:53:00] beautiful year too. We've had about close to 90 business leaders and people involved in business from 24 countries come into the core. So it's a global endeavor that also refocuses our attention and to buy a regional locale. So it's a really cool community just to start having conversations with, especially because a lot of people come in and they often aren't able to have the same depth of authenticity and vulnerability in the conversations with this community as they are in their friend groups at home, you know, so it's a really beautiful community feel that we also cultivate there to have these conversations that are really important to have at this point in time. So.
Lucas Root: Amazing. Curveball number one what is the one question you wish I had asked but have not.[00:54:00]
Ryan James: It's a good curveball.
Lucas Root: It's hanging though we're ready for you to knock it out the park.
Ryan James: Yeah, I think maybe a good question that would have been cool to have asked is what was one moment in my life that could have helped me to course correct into pursuing a pathway of deeper alignment and purpose.
Lucas Root: Oh, that's fun. See, I love telling stories for a couple of reasons, but the primary of those is that the people who are receiving the story can walk through the experience that I'm sharing in that story as if they were part of it. It's one of the cool things about being human and the way that we share language [00:55:00] is inside that story.
Your question opens up the floor to you sharing a story for somebody else to step into that reality and maybe end up walking a path of rebiz. Would you share it?
Ryan James: Yeah. Or just a path of recognizing that their unique instrument or sound has a beautiful placement in the world that they can play their part within, and for them to have confidence in the ability to not suppress their melody.
Lucas Root: Yeah. And join into the harmony.
Ryan James: Totally.
Lucas Root: Yeah.
Ryan James: Yeah. So you want me to answer that, my own question?
Lucas Root: Yes, please. I want that story. Thank you.
Ryan James: I've already [00:56:00] mentioned it a bit, but I think the one that I'll highlight is when I first moved to Cameroon when I was 22, I mean, even getting to that point though, there was something that clicked for me that I had an intuition that I wanted to do international business and travel and study abroad and do all of this sort of stuff, but I was also on the trajectory to become a professional athlete.
So I had suppressed my intuitive desire to do something else for something that I was good at, at the moment, which was baseball, but there was this like thing, this effervescent unavoidable energy that was calling me and I kept pushing it away. I think the moment that I ended up quitting the team because I realized that I probably wasn't going to become professional in the same way that I had imagined and moving to Hong Kong, which then had me [00:57:00] start traveling.
And then ending up in Cameroon was this opening of the realization that our intuition often knows far deeper levels of ourself than our conscious mind does, and to be able to follow those things sometimes into places of discomfort and strangeness. Oftentimes are going to lead us into the places that, that we want to go.
So also within that space, going to Cameroon and living in these ways and stepping out of my, what I would call the comfort zone, for lack of a better word our comfort zone actually traps us in discomfort. So to be able to step out of our comfort zone is something that's really powerful because it enables us to birth ourself from the future.
Lucas Root: What a thought. [00:58:00] Yeah. And that's right. We birth ourselves from the future. That's a great story. It's fun to internalize the idea of discomfort being in your case, very much so stepping away from a thing that you were good at. And you know, I was 22 once longer ago than I care to dwell on. And when I was 22, the things that I were good at, I thought they were my calling in life.
Ryan James: Exactly. Rather than what was presented to me for me to develop skillfulness in.
Lucas Root: Well said. Yeah. Yeah. Fun.
Ryan James: Alright. Next curveball.
Lucas Root: Yeah. What is [00:59:00] your most gifted book and why?
Ryan James: I gift many books. But one that I recommend extremely highly to everyone that I interact with now is from one of my teachers and friends Wahinkbetopa or Four Arrows. And he co wrote a book with Darcia Narvaez, who is a childhood psychologist from Notre Dame called Restoring the Kinship Worldview. It's published by North Atlantic Books, which is a nonprofit publisher out of Berkeley, I believe.
And that book is really powerful and taps us back into a kinship worldview. It's really well written. It is very pragmatic. It's also very deep spiritually, emotionally, and all the different things. So I like to gift that book or [01:00:00] recommend that book to people. But a couple of the books that changed my life right off the bat, which was one of my first teachers shared with me was The Magic of Findhorn,
Lucas Root: Oh, yes.
Ryan James: which is a great one.
And then Autobiography of a Yogi was another one of the first ones that he recommended to me.
Lucas Root: I have that right over here.
Ryan James: Yeah, so those two are also really great. And I love Thich Nhat Hanh and the way that he writes as well. So, it's just so simple and you're reading it and the whole reading of it is a zen experience because of the way that he writes without an emotional charge.
Like it's just right there, you know. So I also recommend reading anything from Thich Nhat Hanh.
Lucas Root: Yeah, you are now Probably my guests haven't noticed it but now I'm gonna call attention to that you are now the third person to bring up Fyndhorn on this show.
Ryan James: Oh, cool.
Lucas Root: And You know the first time maybe it's a fluke the second time. It might be a pattern [01:01:00] the third time We can really triangulate there's something to this.
So yeah, go out and buy the magic of Fyndhorn like right now.
Ryan James: Which I never knew, but like, that was one of Paul Hawkins. I think it was his first book. I don't know if it was one of the first ones he wrote, but like he's also now sharing and doing a lot with the regenerative movement. So there's, and one of my favorite lines from him is you either steal or heal the future.
Lucas Root: Oh Yeah.
Ryan James: So the Findhorn, that's a great book. I tried to go there when I was in Scotland but was unable to make it because the buses and trains don't really go, don't really go out there.
Lucas Root: yeah same, the last time I was in the UK was in 2019, and I worked hard to make it a reality to go visit, and I couldn't as well, but soon, I hope I will make a purpose bound trip specifically for that, and then it won't be a question.
Ryan James: Cool. Yeah. Cool.
Lucas Root: Yeah.[01:02:00] Ryan, thank you so much. Do you have any parting thoughts?
Ryan James: Do to your best to live a beautiful life for yourself and for those that you've never met, and for those that you don't even consider people.
So, all of this work, all of these discussions, all of these talks, if we don't remember the beauty that's already here. It's really hard to create more beauty.
So remember the beauty that's here so we can continue to create beauty in the world. You know, war doesn't create peace. Only peace creates peace. So in the same way, beauty will create beauty. So live a life of beauty by recognizing beauty. And I think it'll help us all out.
Lucas Root: thank you, Ryan.
Ryan James: Thank you.
Narrator: Thanks for joining us this week on Elements of Community.
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